Friday, April 25, 2014

A Must-Read Article

Unfortunately, scholarly studies into the Highgate Vampire are far and few between—notable exceptions include Ramsey Campbell's "The Strange Case of Sean Manchester" (1992), Bill Ellis' "The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Hunt: The Anglo-American Connection in Satanic Cult Lore" (1993), Kai Roberts' Highgate Vampire chapter in Grave Concerns: The Follies and Folklore of Robin Hood's Final Resting Place (2011) and W. Scott Poole's "The Vampire that Haunts Highgate: Theological Evil, Hammer Horror, and the Highgate Vampire Panic in Britain, 1963–1974" in The Undead and Theology (2012), edited by Kim Paffenroth and John W. Morehead.

Haunted America Tours
Instead, we must largely contend with the regurgitations; buck-chasing; scattered, out-of-context referencing and dodgy parapsychological "investigations" of the case's main protagonists, Sean Manchester and David Farrant. Fortunately, an antidote's recently been published online, giving us a taste of what studies on the subject should look like. In fact, it's one of the best write-ups on the case I've ever read. 

For the sake of disclosure, I'll mention that the article's author is a friend of mine; last year, he interviewed me for a podcast about the case. He has not told me to promote the article, I am only doing so on its own merits. Now, onto the write-up.

Trystan Swale's "The Highgate Vampire – An Exercise in Deception?" was published on Mysterious Times, March 27, 2014, and pulls no punches. However, instead of the usual inflammatory commentary revelled in by the case's protagonists and their supporters, Swale presents a clean, balanced overview, highlighting flaws in Manchester and Farrant's account, also incorporating some startling claims made by John Pope, a man who's been on both sides of the Highgate Vampire fence. The article also features 50 citations, so you can double-check his sources for yourself. It's great stuff and highly recommended.

It's also something I wasn't expecting from Swale, considering the informal, though still on-the-mark tone he uses for his blog, Leaves that Wither—which I'll discuss in another post. In the meantime, be sure to read his article. I hope you'll find it as enlightening and enriching as I do. For a concise, balanced overview of the case, it's hard to go past it.

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